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THE Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is joining forces with The Walt Disney Company (Southeast Asia) in a three-year collaboration that will see Singapore hosting Disney brand-themed events and activities to draw both locals and tourists.
Aside from shining the spotlight on local attractions and precincts, the partnership also aims to help local event organisers and small- and medium-sized enterprises leverage the entertainment events to boost businesses.
"This partnership is another step in our efforts to anchor world-class entertainment events, and make Singapore the key leisure destination for visitors from South-east Asia and beyond," said Minister for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran, of the collaboration, which is the first of its kind between Disney and a South-east Asian tourism body.
First up is a three-day Star Wars Festival, dubbed Star Wars Day: May The 4th Be With You, at Gardens by the Bay from May 4 to 6, followed by other Star Wars-themed activities in the second half of this year. Marvel and Disney Pixar themes are also slated for the coming years.
A key highlight of next month's festival will be SaberTrees, where the Gardens' Supertrees will be transformed into lightsabers. Other features include photo opportunities with Star Wars character Chewbacca, a light and music show, a 4.5km fun run and an outdoor movie screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Event organiser Esprimo expects to receive some 60,000 participants over the three days.
"There is a strong pipeline of content coming from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucas over the next three years," said Alex Baillie, head of marketing and partnerships for Walt Disney. "There's lots and lots that we can do."
Allen Law, chief executive of Park Hotel Group, said hotels here can expect "a slight increase in demand" over the course of the three-year partnership since the events will seek to attract overseas visitors from regional markets.
Mr Iswaran also highlighted other initiatives that are being rolled out by STB, such as a new regional office in Surabaya amid ongoing efforts to drive more visitor traffic from secondary cities.
Indonesia is already Singapore's biggest source market, accounting for some 2.89 million visitors last year. Jakarta generated the highest number of travellers to Singapore, followed by Surabaya.
In addition, a further S$10 million has been allocated to the next tranche of the Kickstart Fund which supports test-bedding of lifestyle concepts and events. The fund will have a higher level of support - up to 70 per cent of qualifying costs and a higher grant ceiling of S$200,000 per project, up from 50 per cent and S$150,000, respectively.
Events that have tapped the Kickstart Fund in the past include Singapore Cocktail Festival, and outdoor music and arts festival Neon Lights.
Meanwhile, a Design Incubator will be launched opposite the Heeren at Orchard Green by end 2018. It will feature over 40 homegrown brands and working spaces for local talent. This is projected to run for a 10-year period and will be operated by Singapore-based retail brand Naiise.
This year, Singapore is aiming for visitor arrivals growth of 0-2 per cent - up from 16.4 million last year - and an increase in tourism receipts of 1-4 per cent. Last year, the city-state chalked up S$24.8 billion in tourist spend.